Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony gift ideas

The first thing you will notice about Chinese weddings is the colour red everywhere from decorations to teapots and cups . The colour red is often used during Chinese New Year and weddings as it symbolises luck and happiness.

Dating back to the Tang Dynasty in China (618-907), the Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony “敬茶” (jìng chá) has a rich history and is an important part of the Chinese wedding culture.

So what is the Chinese Tea Ceremony?

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What happens during the Tea Ceremony?

During the tea ceremony, the order of tea serving is very important and is based on seniority. The parents will be served first, followed by grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, uncles and aunts, and then elder siblings.

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In return, the bride and groom will receive gold usually in the form of gold bars or  jewellery  which has to be worn immediately to show a sign of appreciation and ‘angpaos’ (a red packet containing money).

The gold given is usually in 999 gold or 916 gold as it has the number 9 which represents “长长久久” ( cháng cháng jiǔ jiǔ ) (longevity), blessing the union of the newly wed to be a long and prosperous one.

Here are some examples of gold bars and jewellery given during the Tea Ceremony.

After serving the elders, the younger siblings and relatives will then serve tea to the bride and groom. ‘Angpaos’ will be handed in return to give blessing and thanks.

What do the bride and groom wear?

Traditionally the bride will wear a ceremonial wedding dress called Qun Kua or Qun Kwa “群褂”, for short some call it Kua.

Originating from the Ming dynasty as the royal wedding dress, modern Chinese brides wear this traditional gown on their wedding day or during the tea ceremony to pay homage to their roots.

Wearing the Qun Kua is an incredibly symbolic gesture; it marks a new beginning in a woman’s life as she is now ‘married off’ to a new family.

A Kua is a two-piece jacket and skirt combo that is usually elaborately embroidered with phoenix and dragons (representing the harmony between the couple).

Traditionally in red, Qun Kua comes in a variety of designs and colours like this beautiful gold embroidered piece.

Other common motifs are mandarin ducks (seeing as they mate for life, represent fidelity) and bats (as the word for bat in Mandarin Chinese sounds similar to good fortune).

Picture credit: CCM WEDDING

In terms of jewellery, the bride will adorn gold bangles, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, matching the intricate gold embroideries of the Kua.

Gold jewellery is often stacked to give a ‘full look’ representing prosperity,  wealth and luck. The more the merrier!

The groom may wear a matching Kua as well and is also embroidered with gold and auspicious symbols.

Is there a specific tea used during the Tea Ceremony?

The teas used during the Tea Ceremony are usually sweet and full of symbolism. Some families use red date tea as they believe the sweetness of the dates symbolizes a sweet and happy marriage.

There are also some who uses lotus seed tea to represent holiness and purity, and also a blessing for the newly wed to have many children in the future as the Chinese word for lotus "莲子" ( lián zi ) is the same word as child.

The Double Happiness symbol “囍”

A symbol that you will see everywhere from teapots to cushions to wall decorations is the “囍”( shuāng xǐ ) word. This word is formed by combining two happiness “喜” ( ) character hence the name Double Happiness.

The tea ceremony is important as it is a symbol of the families’ welcoming the bride or groom into the family. To date, many Malaysian Chinese families still carry on this tradition and hold Tea Ceremonies for newlyweds.